Direct Cell-Cell Communication via Membrane Pores, Gap Junction Channels, and Tunneling Nanotubes: Medical Relevance of Mitochondrial Exchange

Eliseo Eugenin, Enrico Camporesi, Camillo Peracchia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The history of direct cell-cell communication has evolved in several small steps. First discovered in the 1930s in invertebrate nervous systems, it was thought at first to be an exception to the “cell theory”, restricted to invertebrates. Surprisingly, however, in the 1950s, electrical cell-cell communication was also reported in vertebrates. Once more, it was thought to be an exception restricted to excitable cells. In contrast, in the mid-1960s, two startling publications proved that virtually all cells freely exchange small neutral and charged molecules. Soon after, cell-cell communication by gap junction channels was reported. While gap junctions are the major means of cell-cell communication, in the early 1980s, evidence surfaced that some cells might also communicate via membrane pores. Questions were raised about the possible artifactual nature of the pores. However, early in this century, we learned that communication via membrane pores exists and plays a major role in medicine, as the structures involved, “tunneling nanotubes”, can rescue diseased cells by directly transferring healthy mitochondria into compromised cells and tissues. On the other hand, pathogens/cancer could also use these communication systems to amplify pathogenesis. Here, we describe the evolution of the discovery of these new communication systems and the potential therapeutic impact on several uncurable diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6133
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Volume23
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • HIV
  • TNTs
  • cancer
  • communication
  • gap junctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Direct Cell-Cell Communication via Membrane Pores, Gap Junction Channels, and Tunneling Nanotubes: Medical Relevance of Mitochondrial Exchange'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this